The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity.
LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen
The Epistle came from Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, the Third Chapter beginning at the Fourth Verse. Paul reminds us through the Grace of God we can be able ministers of the new testament, on our own we can be in the end no good. If we are able to completely follow the Law, with good intent, we can through that please God, but inasmuch as that is impossible we fall short. The letter of the Law, which cannot be complied with is death. But following the spirit of the Law gives life. That is Jesus’ message, for in the Law is death and in the spirit life. For if there is glory in administering the Law, how much more glory is there in the spirit of the Law, which is Jesus’ message?
UCH trust have we through Christ to God-ward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
Today’s Holy Gospel started in the Seventh Chapter of the Gospel according to St. Mark, beginning at the Thirty-First Verse. Jesus came in to the coast of Decapolis
. The people brought unto him a deaf mute. Jesus examined the man, put his fingers in his ears, touched his tongue and said “Ephphatha”
, that is, “Be opened.” What Jesus did here for the deaf mute physically is what he does for each of us spiritually. Through Jesus, we hear the Word of God and are given the ability to speak it. Conversely, there are none so deaf as those who will not hear and none so blind as those who will not see. It is up to each of us to choose if we will remain blind, deaf and dumb or open our eyes to see, hear and speak the Word of God. When we receive the gift of sight, hearing and speech we embark on a new life of freedom.
ESUS, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; and were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.
Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the need
for action, not simply diction.
Consider the words of the Collect, wherein we ask God who is … more ready to hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask …
For the first time in a long time, this collect acknowledges that we are continually pray to God, asking Him for what WE want. Yet, how oft do we listen to Him when He responds? If we will listen to Him and DO what He asks, He will give us more than we have need of, more than we ask for, more than we can even desire. Yet, it requires us to listen to Him, then ACT on what we are told. When we ask His forgiveness, when He gives it, we need to accept it and live it; if we live in the past, we never will benefit. We have to accept it in the present. The present is the only realm of time in which we have complete control of our actions and thoughts and can influence people around us. The past has already happened, we cannot change the past. The future has not yet happened, but can only be influenced through the present. So that brings us to the present, which is the most important part of time, where we can act directly for Him. We have to remember that the only time in which we can influence our action with the help of the Holy Ghost is within the present. We are never in tomorrow, and we are never in the past, but we are always within the present. Then let us accept His forgiveness now, not tomorrow, not yesterday, but today.
God gives us guidance through the Holy Ghost, if we will but accept it. He gives us the power to act in the spirit of The Law. The Law or actually 613 little laws turned out to be in of itself a death sentence. The Jews could or would not comply with the 613 Mosaic Laws, which brought them death.
The Jews only cared about following the Law, not about the spirit of the Law which was intended. Following the letter of the Law does not save an individual, following the spirit of the Law is the more important matter. If you follow in the spirit of the Law, you are following what the Law was meant for. Jesus is the ultimate embodiment of the Law. As the embodiement of the Law, He gave us the important bits of the law, when He gave us the summary of The Law, which through Him would bring life, everlasting life and happiness here on earth:
HOU shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
Only two laws to comply with, which though simpler, are harder:
1. Love God
2. Love your neighbor like yourself
Think about it, if you do those two things, you will find you need no other real moral guidance. If you understand the Big Picture, you know what to do on your part of the Little Picture to make your world line up with His World. Just like the sight picture on a rifle, lining up the sights with the target. We want our sights to line up with His Picture. We want our sight picture to be the same as His. The problem is just like the Jews, we cannot perfectly follow those either. Because we come from the same common ancestor, Adam, we have the curse of free will. We often exercise this free will poorly, rather than in the way God intended it, which is to focus on Him. But we can at least do our very best to follow those directions and change course whenever we aren’t.
In the Gospel, Jesus helped a deaf man with an impediment of speech. We are like that deaf man, who cannot seemingly hear God’s commands, or won’t. We have a speech impediment in that we often utter incorrect or outright sinful words in our day to day lives. We are asking for Him to heal us of both spiritual impediments. Without His help, we cannot be cleared of our spiritual deafness and uncleanliness.
Only Christ can purify our hearts, souls and minds. However, before He can do that, we have to make the conscious effort to let Him into our hearts. He does not enter into hearts where He is not wanted. Only with that continual, conscious effort, can He dwell within our hearts and save us. It is through His faith, His sacrifice we are saved, but we must show that we are with Him, by acting for Him. This is a continuous process that will go on for the rest of our earthly lives.
Doing our best is all that God asks of us, not just saying we are doing our best when we aren’t. But, happily for us, Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf accounts us as just before God. So, now that we know that, who do we tell about it? Do we let people know, or do we hide our allegiance to the Lord? If you hide your allegiance, you really have none. But we must be open about our allegiance and share the Good News with others, that they in time may come to seek the joys of His Kingdom. They may not understand right away, but the seed of the Lord may germinate and grow within them, so that within due course they may understand the Word and come to seek Him. A seed does not instantly become a large sycamore tree, it takes years of watering and good sunshine for the plant to grow into the large tree. It is the same with us, it takes years of good spiritual food and drink (The Holy Scripture and the Holy Ghost) and of being with fellow believers who are learning along with you to grow spiritually.
The Holy Ghost is a large part of our spiritual lives. Without Him, we could not be considered one of Christ’s sheep. We have to let Him into our hearts and lead a transforming and a renewal of our minds. Without His help, we cannot adequately follow Him. In other words, we are doomed without the help of the Holy Ghost, which will give us His guidance and advice in conducting our church lives, our professional lives and our personal lives.
When Jesus opened the ears and mouth of the deaf mute, He did for him what the Holy Ghost will do for us, if we will but let Him open first our ears to hear, then our mouths to testify, communicate and direct. We must lead people to God, not try to push them. Thus, we need to strive, each of us, to follow God more closely that we can pull on the lead rope. Leading requires being in front of the people you are attempting to lead, having them follow your example towards an objective. Study Jesus’ life, He is a perfect example of a leader. We cannot ever be perfect, but we can strive for that perfection in our actions.
Action counts. For by their actions ye shall know them.
Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail. The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.
The time is now, not tomorrow. The time has come, indeed. How will you ACT?
It is by our actions we are known.
Be of God - Live of God - Act of God
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